August 31 – meaning of the past

meaning of the past
understanding memory
listen, carefully

Today’s Haiku is cribbed from reporter/author Tony Horwitz in a round about way.

It resonates for me back to college, when I had a class titled, “The Revolution Through the Documents.”

The point of the class was to learn how to use historical 1st person reports and letters to understand historical events.

The class was designed to take advantage of the amazing archives at the William Clements Library on the campus of the University of Michigan.

The class had 7 other students beside me.

The Professor was wonderful.

He introduced this small group of cocky 20-something year olds to the world of historical research.

He had three rules.

  1. Take the reader by the hand. You are the expert. Do not expect the reader to know what you know.
  2. Avoid a sense of present-mindedness. Do not assume that the people in the documents knew what you now know or had access to the information you now have. For example, in 1776 there wasn’t one decent map available that could come close to a throw away map of the eastern United States that you get free at a gas station.
  3. Compassion.

The philosopher George Santayana is credited with saying, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.

I hesitate to quote someone like George Santayana because I have not read anything by him but this quote.

Churchill changed to the quote to the more remembered, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Today, it is in fashion to condemn the past in an overwhelming sense of present-mindedness, then to try and learn from it.


Compassion is one of the great words, greater concepts and the greatest personal quality that has been abandoned in this century.

August 29 – civil conversation

civil conversation
choosing fairness over fear
expression to hope

Hammered out from the Manchester Guardian, online as, The Guardian.

The newspaper states, “A civil conversation has never been more important in American public life. Guardian journalism, driven by fact-based reporting, offers an independent voice of reason at a time when the national conversation is divisive and embittered. At a time of acrimony, America is in need of public civility. For 200 years Guardian journalism has been committed to giving expression to hope, not hate, and choosing fairness over fear.”

I have always liked The Guardian.

Maybe because part of my family emigrated from Manchester.

Maybe because Alistair Cooke (America, Masterpiece Theater) was for many years, the USA Correspondent for the Guardian.

It is a newspaperpaper with an interesting history.

Started in 1821, in 1936, ownership was transferred to a trust that was created in 1936 to “secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference”.

I like a newspaper that claims to be, “committed to giving expression to hope, not hate, and choosing fairness over fear.”

Of course, this is a newspaper in Britain, not the United States.

August 28 – Thousands of reasons

Thousands of reasons
community of commuting
a single purpose

Roadway is filled with cars and trucks.

Everybody is heading in the same general direction.

Roads and paths that converge into one.

The road into or around Atlanta.

Same purpose.

The road more traveled.

The path taken.

It is the reasons that are less traveled.

The reason not taken.

That makes all the difference.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

August 27 – Painting Yesterday

Painting Yesterday
Watercolors, Blacks and Blues
Today, blank canvas

I took this image for the web – I am not trying to paint

Many of these haiku’s and notes would indicate a good sized helping of depression and a side order of oh-woe-is-me on my plate with a glass of life-sucks as I take a table at the it-can’t-be-done diner.

A friend mentioned that my recent haiku’s were so sad and depressing.

Not my intent.

Well, not always.

But today my thought was even though a painting of my yesterday would be heavy in blacks and blues, today, the canvas was blank.

The paintbox is open.

Lots of colors available.

Lots of blank canvas available.

Who knows how today’s painting could end up.

August 26 – soul’s long dark night

in soul’s long dark night
character trait, need to be …
taken seriously

I think I know him better than anyone here. This is a quiet, frightened, insignificant man who has been nothing all his life, who has never had recognition—his name in the newspapers. Nobody knows him after seventy-five years. That’s a very sad thing. A man like this needs to be recognized. To be questioned, and listened to, and quoted just once. This is very important.

from the play, 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose (1954)

Social Media opens a new door.

How badly do you want recognition.

August 25 – watch national sense

watch national sense
collectively unravel
wait to read footnotes

Had dinner with my brother Paul recently and conversation got around to current dire state of affairs.

He stopped eating and says, “When I was in college, students were being shot on campus by the National Guard, cities were burning, We were involved in a foreign war without exit and the economy was destroyed by inflation.”

At some point a history of the United States will be written that will contain the footnote,

  • The 2nd decade of the 21st century was marred by economic uncertainty, social unrest and political dysfunction. Then …

August 24 – sunlight, bright, clear, loud

sunlight, bright, clear, loud
world in motion, spinning round
new day, same old way

There is a quality to the sunlight down here in Georgia.

It’s a reoccurring theme in these notes.

It is brighter.

It is clearer.

It is stronger.

It is, some how, loud, in its brightness.

Being in it, seeing it, waking up to it, makes you feel better just for its being there.

It starts shining bright every morning.

The same and always different.

Always new.

August 23 – Look for recognition

Look for recognition
Work any good? Measure up? Well,
Grapes were sour anyway

I entered a haiku contest hosted by Landmark Books in Traverse City, Michigan.

I hoped to win.

I looked for recognition that these often mindless scribblings might be considered, ‘good’.

I was downcast to learn that I had not won.

The winning Haiku,

High Murder of Crows
Scripture on Cloudscape unfolds
A thousand meanings

submitted by a Ellen Lord, is interesting and in my opinion, echos a reocurring theme about crows from the writer Jim Harrison.

I pass over that Ms. Lord lives in Charlevoix, Michigan and that Ms. Lord has now won twice in the 5 times this contest has been held.

I got away from the writing these just for the fun of it.

Well, this episode is over and I have learned my lesson.

Besides, those grapes were sour anyway.

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”


Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

August 22 – coming in tired

coming in tired
amazing simpatico
takes all sorts to start

Random words and phrases as I listen to the conversation during a rain delay in the 3rd test match.

Random words that describe my morning to a T.

Fog of fatigue.

Swamp of emotions in drive to work.

Things to do.

Things I have to do.

Things to get done.

If asked though, I just want to lay down for 10 minutes and close my eyes.